Now that the learned members of the society have talked and cancelled one another on the legality of whether or not the National Assembly has the powers to legislate on the INEC calendar for the 2019 general elections is cooling down.
Having internalised all the arguments for and against the amendment saga. It would safe to look at the social, cultural, economic and political desirability of the actions of the senate in the interest of promoting vibrant and enduring democratic culture for the country.
The constitution in giving INEC the powers to conduct, organise and supervise elections in to the offices of the President, Vice President, Governors, National and Houses of Assemblies members freely, also required it to do so in the best possible manner that would promote good Governance.
The matter under discussion, originated from the House of representatives, on some observed issues of national concerns, that requires some changes in order to move our nascent democratic processes forward.
The lower House adopted a motion to the tinker the election dates, then passed it to the Senate as required by law. Any matter that originate from lower house the two houses by law are required to set up a joint committee to harmonise their positions.
The senate adopted the report of the joint committee and passed the bill, which the President declined his accent.
INEC in carrying these responsibilities for the Nigerian people said, it will do so guided by the following principles;
1. INEC shall carry out all its functions independently, free from external control and influence;
2. INEC shall display openness and transparency in all its activities and in its relationship with all stakeholders;
3. INEC shall maintain truthfulness and honesty in all its dealings at all times;
4. INEC shall ensure that no action or activity is taken in support of any candidate or political party;
5. INEC shall ensure the creation of a level playing field for all political actors;
6. INEC shall be committed to providing quality electoral services efficiently and effectively, guided by best international practice and standards;
7. INEC shall ensure fairness and justice in dealing with all stakeholders;
8, INEC shall be committed to the promotion of merit and professionalism as the basis for all its actions;
9. INEC shall create a conducive environment that promote teamwork among its staff at all levels.
I do not doubt the ability of INEC or the integrity of the Chairman of the commission, no any of its commissioners to be fair to all, but what worries here is that members of the commission were appointees recommended by the executive and people tend to perceive them as such. By these it also give the impression that on some issues they will tend to be on the side power, especially on matters where their impartiality is put to test.
INEC on all issues is expected to act within the privileges guaranteed to it by the constitution and up hold the principles it set for itself to deal with all matters autonomously, transparently, credibly, impartially, with dedication, equity, integrity and the excellence it promised the Nigerian people.
To begin with INEC before joining issues with the national assembly ought have consulted with the senate on the import of their decision to tinker with the calendar of the elections. This would have save us the media frenzy and over heating of the polity.
From this point on I was amazed how the whole matter was reduced to the interpretation of the constitution on whether or not the National Assembly has the power to make laws to amend certain activities of INEC, that the Assembly found will promote good governance and enduring democracy for the country.
The import for which the assembly deemed there was the need to tinker with dates of the 2019 elections was lost amidst the controversy generated on the appropriateness of the senate to legislate on matters affecting INEC.
The legal luminaries as usual have had their days arguing citing laws for and against, the courts have made their judgements, even though the matter I believe is not all over yet.
The national assembly exist because it is a living concern it can feel, touch, smell and respond to any stimulus in the environment.
If the intentions of the crafters of the Nigerian constitution was to ensure the separation of powers and to prevent the concentration of unchecked power and to provide for checks and balances to avoid autocracy, inefficiencies and promote good governance then it does not need further probing to understand why the National Assembly attempted to legislate and tinker with the calendar for the conduct of the 2019 elections.
Its a fact that over the years in all the previous elections we have conducted the Presidential election comes first and no one has questioned why in the past.
For two house now to consider reversing the arrangements they must have perceived that something is fundamentally wrong and it is their duty as law makers to come up with laws that can correct the lapses to ensure good governance.
With benefit of hindsight the assemblies must have observed once the Presidential election comes earlier it affects the quality of the out come of preceding elections as it becomes fait accomplice, the band wagon effect weighs so much on the outcome of results that follows the Presidential election.
This now bring us to the qualities of the representations we have in the assemblies. You and me will agree in light of several developments that had taken place some of the Senators and Members we have in our national assemblies are not fit to be their but for the bandwagon effect.
A cursory look at the states assemblies also goes on to show how this has badly affected the quality of representation at the State Houses of Assemblies because the Gubernatorial elections comes earlier then that of members of the state houses of assemblies. If this is aloud to continue then something must be wrong with us as a people.
It will be seen as a tapestry to democracy.
That is why today we see all sorts of despotic and autocratic leadership emerging in the states. The state assemblies no longer check the excesses of the
Governors because of the enormous powers they possesses.
The same principles also occurs in election to the local government councils.
The quality of the elected officials in the local government councils to borrow from the Hausa proverb are nothing but “Yan amshin Shata”. Elections into local government councils are nothing but allocations.
In fact to say that we are practising democracy at the local council level is laughable and crazy.
I believe these are some of the issues the national assembly wanted correct by legislating on the INEC election calendar.
I am therefore amazed with the way we think in this country.
The APC as a party which is flying the kite of integrity, reform, rule of law and social justice, failed to grasp the meaning of the lofty ideals in the move by the national assembly of which they are both in control to refine our nascent democracy for the good of the country. As a reformer such opportunities does come only once.
INEC also with cover given to by the constitution have consistently decided to look the other way by allowing things to continue the way they were, might be for fear of being branded as impartial or whatever.
The change agents all took the simplistic path of blaming their predecessors for not correcting the problem, it should therefore continue “business as usual”
This is the puzzle for me, many voted President Buhari because they feel he is above board and would make any positive changes that will improve the way are governed. Unfortunately whether the President was wrongly advised he decided to kill what would have solve one of the major albatross of our electoral process.
The national assembly also chicken out by failing to invoke the constitutional provision that gave it power to over ride the President?
What is wrong with power, does it really intoxicates as they say or are really putting our personal interest first before that of the country?
When shall we as people begin to look at our issues within prism of how to make this country work better? When are we going to stop personalising issues to serve our selfish individual or group interest?
When shall we put the country first before any other considerations?
What a lost opportunity.
What a shame!